Sponsors of legislation making it tougher to get initiatives on the ballot in Idaho hoped new laws going into effect today would cut the number of initiatives put before voters.
But as of Monday afternoon, eight new initiatives had been filed before the deadline so they could be circulated under the old laws.
One would ban certain types of bear hunting.
Another initiative is intended to end the requirement that school districts negotiate with “local educational organizations” on behalf of professional employees. If enacted, the initiative would allow districts to negotiate with teacher unions only if they so desired.
That idea was introduced in the 1995 legislative session but never got out of the Senate Education Committee.
The other initiatives:
One sponsored by Twin Falls podiatrist Peter Rickards on radiation hazards from buried nuclear waste.
An initiative to move financing for school maintenance and operations from local property to state sales tax over a three-year period.
An attempt to repeal most of the initiative changes enacted by the Legislature this year but keeping the change lowering the requirement from 10 percent of the vote cast for governor in the last election to 6 percent of the registered voters. That would make it easier to get initiatives before voters.
Three term-limit initiatives. A term-limit proposal, which is being challenged in the courts, was the only ballot issue to win approval from voters last November. It won by a 266,118-210,448 count.
The initiatives started before today, when most new laws passed by the 1997 Legislature go into effect, must obtain signatures from 41,335 registered voters in the next year. If that happens, the question would be put on the ballot for the November 1998, general election.
The Idaho Association of Commerce and Industry and the Idaho Farm Bureau were among groups pushing the legislation approved by lawmakers and signed into law by Gov. Phil Batt this year.
The business association said the changes would allow more Idaho residents to participate in the initiative process, instead of allowing sponsors to gather the bulk of their signatures in the state’s population center.
Opponents have warned the changes will make it almost impossible for grassroots citizen groups to get initiatives on the ballot in the future.
The new laws require about the same number of signatures, but limit the time for gathering them to 18 months and require sponsors to get signatures equal to 6 percent of the registered voters in at least 22 counties.
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